I missed Smackdown two weeks ago and was doing online things while watching last week's episode, so I didn't pay close enough attention to warrant any comments (even my brief, cursory sort). So, it's been a while since I talked Smackdown. This episode was solid overall. Lots of focus on in-ring action with the right amount of promo work mixed in.
* Teddy Long one-upping Drew McIntyre at the beginning of the show was great.
* The opening match was pretty good. I liked Jack Swagger's promo before it began. During it, Michelle and I got into our first Swagger-related debate: his win/loss record while champ. I thought he should have been booked stronger against the midcard talent he faced like John Morrison, Kofi Kingston, and MVP, while she thought that him winning all of those matches wouldn't make as much sense. I had no problem with Swagger dropping matches to guys like the Undertaker or Randy Orton since they're established main eventers and he was new to that level. However, his losses to the midcard guys were unnecessary. They shouldn't have been easy victories or anything, but I think Swagger should have won all of those matches. Show that the confidence he's gotten from being champ has made him better in the ring -- more determined and focused.
* The other argument was over the ankle lock finish. Michelle hated it and how the Big Show reacted, thinking that he needed to do more to get out of it, while I argued in favour of what happened. Michelle and I don't really argue, we're not one of those couples, but this was one of those rare times where it almost devolved into angry shouting. Because we have a good sense of perspective on matters... Some people will no doubt criticise them for having Swagger become more of a Kurt Angle copy, but I like that. Someone from Swagger's background would look to Angle as a person to emulate, so it makes sense. I just wish they would have gone in that direction sooner a bit more. Besides, I love the ankle lock. It's probably the submission move I see as the most effective given the mobility of the applyer, the pain it inflicts, and the difficulty in getting out of it.
* The six-man tag match was pretty typical stuff. Still not a fan of Hawkings and Archer. I like how they had the senior team win with the youngest guy taking more of the punishment, pushing the idea of experience winning out.
* The McIntyre/Hardy match didn't impress me as much as it did others. I found it to be a great argument for why more time doesn't necessarily equal better quality. Until it came back from its last commercial break, it was pretty slow and plodding. Shit we'd seen before. I also didn't like the placement of the Michinoku Driver variation from the top rope. That looked like a match-ending move and it was done very early into the match. I didn't buy Hardy kicking out. At all. It was a just the wrong place for that move and that kind of soured me on the rest of the match. The post-match visa shit with McIntyre made me wish that he had won only for Teddy Long to then inform him that he will be able to celebrate this victory with his family... IN SCOTLAND. It would have been a nice twist on the Powers That Be helping Drew after he loses.
* The Cody Rhodes promo was awesome. Dashing Cody Rhodes finally has character. It was great arrogant heel work, especially lines like "I can literally hear you getting fatter" and his mocking of Husky Harris. He even worked in his entrance of coming out backwards looking over his shoulder. It was really good and has me thinking that Rhodes is going places. I've liked his ring work for a while, but thought his character was lacking. This may be what he needs to get a decent midcard push.
* The more I see of Team LayCool, the more I love them. They're funny -- and the addition of Kaval as their NXT rookie just adds visual comedy anytime all three are together on screen.
* The final brawl between Kane and the Straight Edge Society was well done. The three-on-one bit kept things moving smoothly while making Kane seem unstoppable. CM Punk running away into the night was goofy as fuck, but whatever.
* I do have to question the decision to give Rey Rey the belt when he was going to miss the first TV taping after Fatal 4-Way because of a vacation. I'm a big believer that your world champion should be the focus of your show unless there's a good for otherwise. I criticised TNA heavily for not having RVD on last week's Impact (this week wasn't much better for him showing up very briefly). The world champ is the face of the company/brand/show and his absence should come with a good reason. But, that's me.
As I said, a solid episode. Not entirely sure where everything is going as we build to Money in the Bank, though. Probably the Swagger/Mysterio match, Kane/CM Punk, and the Smackdown MitB match? Seems solid enough. We'll see.